Recipe: Fermented Sencha Tea Leaf Salad

salad2Looking to shake up your salads? This is such a delicious way to get your green tea and your greens! Crunchy, tart, and wholesome, this is a traditional Burmese dish that you can make right at home.

Ingredients:
Tea Leaf Dressing:
– 1/2 cup Choice Organic Teas Sencha Loose Leaf Tea
– 3 cloves garlic
– 2-3 inch piece of ginger, diced
– 1/2 large shallot clove
– 1 Tbsp sesame oil
– 2 Tbsp oil (vegetable, avocado, peanut, grapeseed all work)
– 3 Tbsp lemon juice
– 2 Tbsp white vinegar
– 2 Tbsp fish sauce
– 1 tsp salt

Salad:
– 2 large handfuls of leafy greens (romaine, kale, spinach, etc)
– 1 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
– 1/2 cup toasted peanuts
– 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
– 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
– 1/4 cup lentils (cooked and lightly fried)
– 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
– peanut oil
– sesame oil
– 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Instructions:
Dressing:
1. At least ONE DAY IN ADVANCE: prepare Sencha tea leaves by steeping them for 10 minutes in a large bowl with water slightly under boiling.
2. Once steeped, strain with a mesh strainer and rinse with cold water.
3. Place the tea leaves back in the bowl and cover in cold water. Let sit for 1 hour.
4. Using a fine mesh strainer or a cheese cloth, strain the leaves again and squeeze out as much moisture as you can.
5. In a food processor, combine tea, garlic, ginger, shallot, sesame oil, vegetable oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and fish sauce. Process until the texture of pesto, scraping down the sides when necessary.
6. Place tea leaf dressing mixture in an airtight container, refrigerate for at least a day before using.
Salad:
7. When you’re ready to make your salad, start by frying the garlic in a little bit of peanut oil until lightly browned. Remove and place on paper towel. Put aside.
8. Cook the lentils. Once cooked, lightly fry in remaining peanut oil used for garlic. Remove and put aside.
9. Assemble your salad – on a very large platter or dish out individual portions in large bowls. 10. Start with a bed of greens and lay tomatoes, peanuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, lentils, and fried garlic around the perimeter of the bowl, placing the fermented green tea dressing in the center.
11. Squeeze lemon and drizzle sesame oil over the salad before serving.
12. Before eating, mix salad together thoroughly. Serve with a lemon wedge.

Recipe: Black Tea Egg Nog

eggnog2Our rendition of this holiday staple includes tea (of course!) and is sure to hit the spot while wrapping presents, enjoying company, or whenever the craving strikes! You’ll never have to buy egg nog at the store again when you’ve got this super simple recipe with no preservatives or mystery ingredients. We even cook the eggs in this version, so you don’t need to worry if you’ve got concerns about consuming raw eggs. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
– 1 cup water
– 3 tea bags Classic Black
– 6 eggs
– 2 cups whole milk
– 1 cup heavy cream or half & half
– 1/2 cup sugar (more or less to taste)
– 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/2 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
– 3 whole cloves

Instructions:
1. Boil water and steep tea with the cloves for 5 minutes.
2. In a stock pot, combine eggs, whole milk, and sugar.
3. Cook over medium-low heat until thickened, stirring constantly to make sure it does not boil and stick to the pan. (If you’re worried about cooking the eggs thoroughly, use a food thermometer. Eggs are cooked when internal temperature is 160 degrees.)
4. Remove stock pot from heat and add steeped tea (straining out the whole cloves), cream, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
5. Whisk until light and fluffy.
6. Refrigerate until cold.
7. Whisk and fluff before serving. Garnish with a big of ground nutmeg.
Optional: add rum or bourbon as preferred.

Recipe: Mulled Wine with Wild Forest Black Tea

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Our take on a holiday classic: mulled wine enhanced with a brisk black tea! Festive and aromatic, this recipe is sure to warm you up and fill you with cheer. Let the spicy sweet scent fill your home on a cozy Christmas eve or a chilly weekend day like holiday potpourri.

Ingredients:
– 1 bottle dry red wine (like Cabernet)
– 2 cups water- 4 tea bags Wild Forest Black
– 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
– 1/2 cup orange juice
– 1/2 cup frozen cranberries
– 1/2 orange sliced
– 1/2 apple sliced
– 4 cinnamon sticks
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 1 Tbsp whole cardamom pods
– 1 tsp cloves

Instructions:
1. Steep tea bags in boiled water for up to 5 minutes.
2. Pour bottle of wine into large stock pot along with tea, honey, orange juice, cranberries, fruit slices, cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom, and cloves.
3. Cook for 10-15 minutes over medium-low heat until simmering and hot.
4. Serve immediately, garnishing with fruit from the pot or fresh pieces of fruit if you like.
Optional: add a touch of brandy to each serving for an extra kick.

Non-GMO Project Verified Teas

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October is Non-GMO month, a month meant to raise awareness and educate about genetically modified crops and their effect on the environment and our health.
Did you know that Choice Organic Teas was the first tea company in the U. S. to receive Non-GMO Project Verification? We’re proud to have the Non-GMO Project Verified logo on our products and we hope to answer some common questions about GMOs and their place in the tea industry for you.

What is a GMO?
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are organisms whose genetic material has been altered in a laboratory through genetic engineering. Plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes are spliced together in ways that would not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods. There are currently a handful of crops in production that have been genetically modified: alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, papaya, soy, sugar beets, and yellow summer squash. Nearly all of these crops have been engineered to tolerate direct applications of herbicide and/or to produce their own insecticide. These crops are referred to as “at-risk” or “high-risk” ingredients. Although tea is not from genetically modified plants, many additional ingredients and materials that go into tea can be derived from genetically modified organisms. A list of ingredients commonly derived from GMO sources can be found here: http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/what-is-gmo/

What does it mean for a tea company to be Non-GMO Project Verified?
The Non-GMO Project Verification process is comprehensive. It requires on-going testing of all raw at-risk ingredients, their traceability, and their segregation to ensure ingredient integrity. Further, audits and onsite inspections for at-risk ingredient inputs are conducted annually.

While our tea does not contain any at-risk ingredients, supporting the Non-GMO Project goes hand in hand with our commitment to providing organic, high quality products. Should Camellia sinensis or any other herb we use become genetically modified, we will proudly be sourcing only Non-GMO crops. To learn more about obtaining and maintaining Non-GMO Project Verification visit here: http://www.nongmoproject.org/product-verification/about-gmo-testing/guidelines/

Why would a tea company want to be Non-GMO Project Verified?
With corn being one of the most ubiquitous GMOs on the market, it’s no wonder we’re finding it in animal feed, gasoline, biodegradable plastics, and teabags. The teabags we use for our Original, Gourmet, and Wellness lines are made of natural abaca fiber. Abaca, also known as Manila hemp, is a species of banana that is native to the Philippines. This hardy plant has historically been used in making ropes, twines, and many specialized paper products including teabags. We put a lot of time and effort into sourcing high quality ingredients and our packaging materials are equally as important.

If you are already USDA Organic, why do you need to be Non-GMO Project Verified?
While all of the tea we source meets USDA Organic standards, it is also important to be Non-GMO Project Verified. The organic standard does not allow farmers to plant genetically modified crops. However, it does not require ongoing testing to confirm that cross-contamination has not occurred. Having both USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified is the gold standard when looking for products that are free from pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified plants.

Read our press release about being the first tea company to earn the Non-GMO Project Verified label here.

Fair Trade Month Recipe: Orange Spice Tea Banana Bread Muffins

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October is Fair Trade Month and we’re celebrating #FairMoments with Fair Trade USA. As consumers, we create Fair Moments by incorporating Fair Trade Certified ingredients and products into our every day lives. Fair Trade Certified products, like tea, protect and improve the lives of farmers and workers by creating funds for programs that provide education, healthcare, and safety standards.
Find your own Fair Moments with this recipe that is chock full of Fair Trade ingredients. These banana bread muffins are sweet and satisfying with a touch of orange spice, perfect for on-the-go breakfast or snacking!

Orange Spice Banana Bread Muffins

Ingredients:
– 1/2 cup water
– 6 heaping tsp Orange Spice Black Loose Leaf tea
– 1/2 cup butter
– 1/4 cup Fair Trade dark brown sugar
– 3/4 cup Fair Trade white sugar
– 1 cup plain greek yogurt
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 3 very ripe Fair Trade bananas, mashed
– 2 eggs
– 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour, sifted
– optional: chopped walnuts

Instructions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan, remove from heat, and add loose tea leaves.
3. Steep tea for at least  5 minutes, and strain the tea leaves out of the water.
4. In the saucepan, combine steeped tea, the brown and white sugars, and butter.
5. Place saucepan back on stove over medium heat, stir until butter and sugars have combined. Set aside to cool.
6. Mix yogurt and baking soda in large mixing bowl, let stand for 5 minutes.
7. In the large mixing bowl, combine cooled tea and sugar mixture with yogurt. Add the eggs and gently mix.
8. Gently mix in the mashed bananas.
9. Place liners in muffin pan and fill each 1/2 way with batter.
10. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Makes approximately 21 muffins.

10 Tips to Live an Organic Lifestyle

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Organic Harvest Month may be coming to an end, but there are so many ways to continue celebrating and supporting organic products year-round! These days, you can find organic certification on almost any kind of household product, from bedding and clothing, to beauty, bath, and cleaning supplies. But, adapting a more organic lifestyle doesn’t only apply to purchasing products, but is also demonstrated in reducing waste and recycling or re-using the things we no longer need. Little lifestyle changes can have big long-term effects on reducing waste in landfills and the presence of harsh chemicals, toxins, and synthetic materials in our lives, resulting in a healthier you and a healthier environment.

Here are some of our favorite simple ways to transition to a more organic lifestyle:

1. Make your own cleaning products and dump the toxic, chemical stuff. Try tea for window cleaning!
2. Donate clothes you don’t wear and make cleaning rags out of old, damaged clothes instead of throwing them away.
3. Throw the contents of your tea bag in your garden with the compost, your plants will thank you!
4. Wear organic cotton. You can find socks, sweaters, leggings, t-shirts, hats, and much more available in organic fabrics. Buying organic clothing supports agriculture that maintains healthy soils and protects the environment.
5. Make a pledge to cut your environmental impact by carpooling or biking to work one day a week (or more).
6. Small changes make a difference! Try making locally sourced, organic meals once a week.
7. Use a little organic olive oil or coconut oil as a moisturizer instead of buying lotions made with chemicals and synthetics.
8. Start shopping for organic cosmetics, body, and hair care products.
9. Better yet, MAKE your own organic cosmetics.
10. Support organic brands that you love to ensure that organic products stay on the shelves and become the new standard!

10 Ways Organic Farming is Better for the Environment

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Since 1989, our core company values have revolved around creating products that are sustainable and healthy for the environment. This means partnering with organic tea estates across the globe with the same goals in mind. We’re proud to work with tea gardens that cultivate in ways that do not harm the environment or its surrounding ecosystem, utilizing the synergistic way that biodiversity aids in the growth of organic tea.

Here are some of the best ways organic agriculture impacts the environment:

  1. Organic cultivation of tea is better for local wildlife. The Soil Association, an international organization for organic cultivation, notes that a typical organic field has five times as many wild plants, 57 percent more animal species, and 44 percent more birds than a conventionally cultivated farm. Conventional synthetic herbicides and pesticides often kill non-target animals, plants, and insects.

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    A peacock roams freely through a tea estate in India.

  2. Organic farming is sustainable and nurtures the natural biodiversity and structure within its soils and surrounding environment, while also reducing the use of non-renewable resources.
  3. Instead of depleting soils nutrients with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, organic farming strengthens soil by composting, cover cropping, and crop rotation.
  4. Organic farming helps keep water supplies clean of toxic run off and chemicals.
  5. Organic agriculture combats the greenhouse effect and global warming with organic soil’s ability to hold carbon, keeping it out of the air.
  6. Organic agriculture relies on preventative measures to combat pests and invasive weeds, not chemical pesticides and herbicides.
  7. Organic standards prohibit clearing of primary ecosystems for further cultivation.
  8. Organic farming typically produces less waste because it relies less on external resources and more on renewable resources.
  9. Organic practices support and protect bees and other pollinators important to crop growth because it decreases exposure to toxic pesticides, encouraging natural habitats and biodiversity.
  10. Buying organic will increase demand and “lead to a reversal of conventional farming practices” which will have long term effects on the land and our health.
Sources:
http://infohub.ifoam.bio/sites/default/files/page/files/misconceptions_compiled.pdf
http://rodaleinstitute.org/assets/RegenOrgAgricultureAndClimateChange_20140418.pdf
http://www.fao.org/organicag/oa-faq/oa-faq6/en/
https://www.ota.com/organic-101/environmental-benefits
http://theorganicsinstitute.com/organic/14-key-reasons-why-you-should-go-organic/